Tuesday, 29 September 2009

29 Sept: Senior cyclists' ride (car assisted) to Harling Drove

Peter Rowell writes: As no one had rung to arrange transport and George will not do the rough stuff, we decided to arrange a pick-up at Gurney Way for George and Clive (Vic was meeting us at Santon Downham).

With the three bikes loaded we then set off for Santon Downham Forestry Offices. Starting from there at 10.45am we headed north for the Mundford Road, then south-east to the Wretham Road.

The coffee stop was at Croxton New Buildings. We then carried on to Wretham and Great Hockham then Larling, where we crossed under the A11 and turned left to Larlingford and The Angel.

All four partook of lunch and a pint of Adnams Bitter followed by coffee. All agreed it was an excellent meal if rather more in quantity than goes with cycling.

After lunch, we returned via Illington and Wretham to Santon Downham. Most of the ride was through narrow, almost traffic free lanes and the total distance covered was almost 28 miles. We arrived back in Cambridge around 5.00pm. Peter Rowell

Monday, 28 September 2009

27 Sept: Afternoon ride to Litlington

Simon FitzMaurice writes: Given the alternative activities on offer this Sunday, it might have been expected that relatively few would turn up for the afternoon ride. In the event we were eight in number; as we waited to leave at Brookside we watched a steady stream of cyclists pass on the last half mile of their Oxford-Cambridge charity ride.

Mike K led us out on the familiar DNA path, though Whittlesford and Duxford on a glorious afternoon. It wasn't long before we reached Grange Road, Duxford and turned southwest towards Great Chishill and Barkway, where the dependably execrable state of the road surface give us cause to be glad to turn towards Reed, following the ridge past the transmitters with North Hertfordshire laid out to our right.

We passed the Silver Ball (with no sight of the Audax riders at this time though), and after passing through Therfield the descent (35mph) past Royston Golf Club afforded a good opportunity to test our brakes as we approached the T-juncton at the bottom. There we turned left towards the A505 and followed the dual carriageway for a few hundred yards before turning - with care! - right towards Litlington.

Given the distance we had come I was surprised to discover that we were 1/4 hour early, but the tea was as welcome as ever, and we were joined by Gareth and others bringing news of the Audax ride earlier in the day.

The ride back was a direct route via Shepreth and Chapel Hill. At the turn in Barton we stopped to give directions to a pair of cyclists who, it turned out, were perhaps the last of the Audax ride. They were out of time, but determined to complete the course. Between Barton and Cambridge I felt slightly bemused as the Oxford-Cambridge marshalls waved us home. Total distance: 45 miles. Simon FitzMaurice

Sunday, 27 September 2009

27 Sept: Cambridge 100km Randonee

The Cambridge 100km Randonee is CTC Cambridge's contribution to the world of Audax cycling, a 100km circular ride with route cards, periodic control points and a (very generous) time limit. Compared with last month's Mildenhall 100km Audax this is a boutique affair, with about forty riders this year, and just two from CTC Cambridge, myself and Gareth.

The weather for today's ride can only be described as fabulous. Cool at the start, but quickly becoming very warm, with clear blue skies and constant sunshine for the whole ride. A gentle a breeze, but nothing too demanding.

The start (and end) point for the ride was Hauxton Village Hall, about five miles out of Cambridge. Simon Proven, today's organiser, waved us off at 10am and we snaked out way towards Little Shelford in a long, fast, pelaton.

A right turn in the village took us under the motorway and across to the B1368, which we followed south for about eleven miles. This took us through Newton, Fowlmere and Flint Cross before we entered Hertfordshire and climbed up to Barley and Barkway, where we turned right to Reed. I normally find the B1368 a bit dull, so it's probably best taken at a fast pace, and a fast pace was how we took it. Inevitably the ride spread out along the road as the faster riders disappeared into the distance but I think Gareth and I were still somewhere in the middle by the time we arrived at Reed, where Peter, George and Tina were staffing our first control point outside the Silver Ball cafe.

We were soon on our way again, south-west to Sandon and then north-west towards the A505. With an elevation of about 500 feet our route across this chalky upland was the highest part of the whole ride. After crossing the A505 we continued to Ashwell. For the remainder of the ride the landscape would be mostly flat. Heading north now, we entered Bedfordshire and continued to Gamlingay. Here we passed a marshall helping riders on today's Oxford to Cambridge bike ride, who were crossing our route. From Gamlingay we carried on to Waresley, where Gareth and I stopped for lunch at the garden centre. No-one else from the ride was here, but we met a couple of local CTC members and the four of us had a long, enjoyable and, in my case, rather large lunch sitting outside in the warm sunshine.

As we finished lunch we looked at our watches and were slightly alarmed that we had stopped for 75 minutes, rather longer than we had planned. But we reminded ourselves that this was not a race and we were well within the time limits of the ride.

We continued north through Croxton to Graveley, where we stopped at our second control point. This was staffed by Mike and Ian, who informed us that there were only a few riders left behind us. I drank several cups of lemon squash but (because of that large lunch) declined the complimentary chelsea bun.

By now we were well past the half-way point of the ride, and both Gareth and I were slowing down. Fortunately the remainder of the ride was straighforward and familiar; through Hilton to Fenstanton (the northern extremety of the ride) and then south-east to Knapwell and Bourn.

Just after Bourn we found ourselves following the route taken by the Oxford to Cambridge ride. As I overtook one rider I asked him what time he had started: 7.15am, 80 miles ago, was the reply.

Nigel and Gareth approach the Graveley control point (photo: Ian Driver).

The B1046 from Bourn normally takes us back home to Cambridge. But today our destination was Hauxton, so we turned right to Kingston and followed a route through the Eversdens and Harlton to Haslingfield and Harston, where a short section along the A10 brought us back to Hauxton Village Hall just before 4pm.

I handed in my route card and sat down to drink a couple of cups of tea (declining yet another offer of a chelsea bun). I was ready to ride home now, but Gareth was keen on a few more miles and rode off towards the club tea in Littlington. I rode back to Cambridge, where I arrived home (with the sun still shining brightly) at 4.45pm. Mileage today was 67 miles on the offical ride, but including the ride from Cambridge and back my total distance was 77 miles.

Although there were only two CTC Cambridge members on the ride, many more were helping out at the start and staffing the control points. Grateful thanks are due, then, to Simon Proven, event organiser, and half a dozen other club members who gave up the opportunity to go out cycling on a gorgeous sunny day to help.

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Wednesday, 23 September 2009

22 Sept: Senior cyclists' ride to Thurlow and Great Wratting

George Rich writes: On a fine sunny day the Senior Section cycled out to The Cock at Thurlow for Lunch. When we got there we found the pub closed and the builders in charge. One of the builder told us the pub would reopen at the end of October, when it will be under new management.

We then cycled to the Red Lion at Great Wratting where we were made welcome. I did 45 miles before reaching home, which is a good deal longer than most Tuesday Senior Rides. George Rich

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

20 Sept: Afternoon ride to Gamlingay

Tina Filby writes: A party of 11 set off on a glorious sunny afternoon, heading west out of Cambridge on the cycle path alongside the A603 to Barton. Here we turned off to Haslingfield, where we tested our leg muscles riding up Chapel Hill, and enjoyed clear views over Cambridgeshire before dropping down to picturesque Barrington. We continued to Shepreth where we took the cross-country road through Malton to Orwell.

We had a couple of short main road stretches - one along the A603 before we turned off to Wimpole, and another along the A1198 to Arrington - but mostly the ride followed quiet country lanes. Averil had warned us about the long hill climbing north out of Croydon to East Hatley (no exaggeration!) and certainly our route through Herts and Hunts was much hillier than some of the recent flatter Fenland runs.

After passing through the Gransdens we reached Gamlingay and our tea stop at The Cock. Here we met up with some of our senior members. Large platters of generously filled sandwiches, selection of cakes and pots of tea duly arrived and even Mike paused in telling jokes to tuck into the spread!

An hour later, refuelled and refreshed, we returned home, taking a shorter route through Longstowe, Bourn and Toft, arriving back in Cambridge just after 7pm.

I hope Vic had a safe ride home to Linton in the gathering gloom. This reminded us all of shorter days ahead and the need to carry lights for the final part of the ride home.

Thanks to Averil for leading the ride and keeping an eye out for occasional stragglers! A grand 46 miles in total. Tina Filby.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

13 Sept: Afternoon ride to Ashdon

There was a very autumnal feel to the weather today, with overcast skies and a cool breeze. Although no rain was forecast, I could feel a few raindrops in the wind as I rode to the start. So I was pleased to see a total of eight riders at Brookside for today's ride to Ashdon, including two new riders who had not been out with us before.

Gareth led us south out of Cambridge by the same route as we had taken last week, through Trumpington and the Shelfords to Whittlesford and Duxford. A brisk northerly breeze pushed us along from behind, helping us to make rapid progress. At Duxford we we turned right onto Grange Road (below), the long straight road that runs south of Duxford Airfield. Last week this road had been busy with planespotters enjoying the air show. Today was much quieter, with just a single biplane buzzing about overhead.

From Chrishall Grange we took an indirect route (below) to Elmdon via Lodge Farm. After passing through Elmdon we dropped down to the B1039 which we followed to Wendens Ambo. From there a short climb took us into Saffron Walden.

From Saffron Walden a long but gentle climb took us to Ashdon which we reached at about 4.20pm. Here we stopped for tea at the Village Museum, where we were served tea and cakes by the friendly volunteers there. Unusually, nobody else from the club turned up at tea so there was just the eight of us there, enjoying not just free refills of tea but free second helpings of cake too.

After tea, with the time still only five o'clock, there was desire amongst some riders for a longer ride back, so we returned to Cambridge in two separate groups.

One group, led by Jacob, went back by the direct route via Linton, Abington, Babraham and Sawston.

I rode back with the other group, which took a longer route via West Wratting, Six Mile Bottom and Quy. Despite this taking us directly into the headwind we kept up quite a strong pace, partly due to the lead taken by newcomer Simon and partly due to the power of Ashdon Museum chocolate cake. As a result we were back home sooner than I expected, arriving back in Cambridge before 6.30pm, after having cycled a very respectable 48 miles.

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Monday, 7 September 2009

6 Sept: Day ride to Reed, Panshanger Airfield and Royston

Mike Stapleton writes: There were three starters at Brookside at 9am. Bob, Mike & Tom, with John and Greta joining us at Fowlmere. There was quite a breeze for the first 15 miles out to Barkway. The road seemed to be uphill all the way! We observed that the Chequers at Barley is now offering penioners lunches for £5.95 during the week.

Once we turned west at Barkway it got easier so we could enjoy the views to the north. I'm told that on a good day you can see Ely Cathedral from here. We arrived at the Silver Ball at 10.45am. The cafe was packed with motorcyclists in expensive gear. Here we met Brian, Mich Cousins, Doug and Vic.

After elevenses Brian and Mich joined us. We headed out through Therfield to Sandon. The route was well sheltered and we made good progress. We cut across to Rushden and then followed the direct route to Walkern where John and Greta turned off to head home via Bennington.

That left four of us to continue via Watton at Stone. After Watton we headed up the hill which proved quite easy to Datchworth. You can see the little Datchworth Church from miles away, perched on the top of the hill. We then climbed over the wooded hills to Tewin and down into the valley of the River Lee. There is a final short sharp climb up to Panhanger Airfield. The Blue Sky cafe was very welcoming with a good snack menu. We sat outside in the sunshine a few yards away from the parked planes within sight of the runway. You would never realise you were only about half a mile from Welwyn Garden City and less than twenty from the centre of London.

We finally got away after lunch at about half past two so we abandoned the original idea of riding out west of Stevenage. Instead we took the Old Welwyn road as far as the viaduct which carries the railway across the valley. Brian left us at this point while we headed up the long climb over the hill to Burnham Green via Harmer Green. The road swings right around the tiny green at this point. We carried on through Datchworth and down the long hill with glorious views over the hills towards Aston Green. From Bradbury End there is another climb up to Aston Green which, even though it is close to Stevenage, is still a real village. Then down into the valley of the River Bean and yet another hill up to the Walkern Road. I pointed out that there was a steeper way further up the valley. We returned via Walkern, Cromer and Rushden where Bob and Mich headed for home via Ashwell. Tom and I returned via Sandon to Royston where we joined the afternoon ride at the Heath Cafe.

Today was a hard but very enjoyable ride, with glorious scenery and generally good weather. Mike Stapleton.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

6 Sept: Afternoon ride to Royston

There were eight riders at Brookside for this afternoon's ride. Although it was cloudy and quite breezy it remained quite warm, as we would expect in early September. I led the group south out of Cambridge to Trumpington and Great Shelford where we turned right for Little Shelford and the road to Whittlesford.

Just north of Whittlesford we turned right and left onto the road that skirts the western edge of the village before meeting the A505 at the Hunts Road roundabout. Here we were about half a mile from the Imperial War Museum at Duxford and we could see from the growing number of roadside plane-spotters that there was an air show taking place there.

After crossing the A505 we continued along Hunts Road into Duxford, our necks swivelling as we admired the old planes flying low overhead. We then turned right onto Grange Road. This runs along the southern edge of the airfield and was closed to motor traffic for the afternoon. The first few hundred yards were lined with yet more plane-spotters but the rest of the road to Chrishall Grange was completely empty, with only the buzz of Spitfire aerobatics overhead disturbing the quiet.

At Chrishall Grange we turned left and began the gentle climb towards Chrishall, where we turned right to Heydon and Great Chishill.

The climb from Chrishall Grange towards Chrishall

Great Chishill is the highest point in the county (though not the highest point in the area), so the switchback descent from there to Shaftenhoe End was fast and fun.

The descent to Shaftenhoe End

At Shaftenhoe End we turned left to Nuthampstead. The road into Nuthampstead is always very pretty, undulating and pleasantly wooded. After passing through the village we continued towards Barkway, passing the Golf Club (a favourite morning coffee stop) on the way.

At Barkway we crossed the B1368 and climbed slowly up to Buckland, which was probably the highest point in our ride.

Resting at Buckland

After crossing the A10 at Buckland we turned north towards Therfield and after passing through the village enjoyed a steep and very fast descent across the heath to the western edge of Royston. A short ride into town along Baldock Road brought us to our tea stop at The Heath Sports Centre Cafe. There was a cricket match being played outside.

I hadn't been to the cafe here before and was unsure what to expect. I'm pleased to report that it was pretty good, though they soon ran out of cakes. As we walked in it felt more like a pub than a cafe so I was pleased to see a tray of cookies and cakes sitting on the bar. I ordered a large piece of carrot cake and a cup of coffee which cost a reasonable £3.00 and was nicely served on a tray with a separate jug of milk. Others ordered tea which was served in a pot (and which was later topped up with water free of charge). We went back outside to sit down and found Mike and Tom just arriving from the day ride. Steve arrived soon after, making a total of eleven at tea.

After tea we rode back to Cambridge in a single group. There are no quiet roads out of Royston towards Cambridge. The route I chose involved taking the A1198 to Kneesworth where we would turn right to Meldreth. This involves riding a couple of miles along a busy main road but it is wide and has excellent visibility and as a result posed no special difficulties apart from the big roundabout where it crosses the A505.

After turning right at Kneesworth we were on quiet roads again, and with the benefit of a tailwind we made short work of our journey back through Meldreth, Shepreth and Barrington. Then over the hill to Haslingfield before returning to Cambridge along the Barton Road. I was back home at 6.45pm after completing about 45 miles.

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Photo 1 by Gareth Rees. Licence: Creative Commons CC-BY-SA v2.0

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

1st Sept: Senior Cyclists' ride to Cambourne

Peter Rowell writes: On Monday morning I received a phone call from Helen, an Australian lady who said she would like to join us on the ride.

On Tuesday morning I called her back and she said her husband would also come along. They had to hire bikes and in the event they couldn't make it to the start on time. I suggested they come to my place where we were having coffee.

Clive and George arrived at about 10.30am and our visors arrived just before 11.00am. Soon after 11.00 we all set out for Cambourne, taking a route via Caldecote, Bourn and Caxton. We all met up at The Monkfield Arms for lunch where we were joined by Vic. We had a very enjoyable lunch with much discussion.

After lunch the group returned to Cambridge via Monkfield Drive to Bourn, Toft, Comberton, Barton and Newnham. Peter Rowell.